by Chelsea Conkey, Music Therapist
You and your family are all packed up for the Christmas parade. You have your hat and mittens, your hot cocoa in hand and your kids are anxiously waiting for the festivities to begin. To kick it all off, a huge brass band begins to play “Deck the Halls” and with a large crash of the cymbals, the song begins! A robust man standing on a beautifully decorated float leads the carol singing: “Deck the halls with boughs of holly” when suddenly the music and singing come to a complete stop!
Even while reading this, do you feel the urge to sing “Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la” to at least finish off the lyric line???
Music is unique in its’ ability to motivate and prompt participation. This is one of the aspects Music Therapists use in their work to engage children to work on goals at hand. Speech and language challenges are often areas of need that children with special needs are faced with. Through using songs of their choice (this year it’s been any song from Disney’s “Frozen”) children can work on oral motor skills, articulation, syntax and increase one’s vocabulary through singing exercises.
The Christmas parade illustration noted above could be translated to a therapeutic activity where “lining out” is used to motivate the child to verbally fill in the blank. For example: “Old Macdonald had a _____” or “Let it go, let it _____”
Although Music Therapists have the training and expertise to plan, document and adjust the therapy program as needed, you can also try some of the ideas below with your child as a parent or Special Ed worker. We are all musical beings and music is meant to be enjoyed! If you can have fun while working on a specific goal together, then it’s a win-win. So get out there and just SING!
S – Sing!
Singing is a fun and engaging way to work on speech and language development and you can pretty much do it anywhere!
I – Instruments!
Adding a few maracas, harmonicas or magic microphones engage children or teens of any age! Check out Therapy in a Bin’s “Melissa and Doug’s Band-in-a-box” under the “Music and Rhythm” section on their website. This is a great little starter kit to get your child tapping, clapping and singing along.
N – New material! Using the latest Disney hit or a children’s favorite lullaby will help keep the activity fresh and motivating. Unless it’s your absolute favorite song, you can only sing “Twinkle Twinkle” so many times until it loses its novelty.
G- Good enough! No matter how great (or not so great) your singing voice may be, children are more interested in your engagement and authenticity with them than whether or not you should be trying out for the next American Idol. So get out there, turn up the tunes and SING your little heart out!